Vikings rally to top Giants 3-2

Published 11:27 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NILES — An inconsistent evening ended on a bright note for the Niles volleyball team Wednesday night in its regular season home finale.

With visiting Kalamazoo Central and the Vikings deadlocked at 2-2, Niles finally hit its stride in the fifth and deciding set beating the Maroon Giants 15-5 to earn the Big 16 Conference West Division victory.

Niles and Kalamazoo Central actually played an extremely tight match through the first four sets with neither team earning more than a four-point victory.

The Vikings rallied late to win the opening set 26-24.

The match was tied at 7-7 before Taylor Brandstatter served up a couple of winners to give Niles the 10-8 advantage.

After getting the ball on a side out, the Giants’ Ashley Cutshaw served Kalamazoo Central into an 18-10 lead.

The Vikings were able to battle back and tied the set at 22-2.

A kill by the Giants’ Kandice Johnson made it 23-22 and a block by Passion Johnson gave Kalamazoo Central to game point, 24-22.

A service error by the Giants gave the ball back to Niles down just a point.

A kill by Michelle Briand made it 24-24 and then a tip by Briand gave the Vikings the 25-24 advantage. Ashley Love’s three consecutive service points made Niles a two-point winner.

The second set was a battle as well.

Kylee Myer staked the Vikings to a 6-1 lead, but Niles was unable to hold on to it as the Maroon Giants came storming back and tied the set at 10-10.

Monica Kioshi’s kill gave Kalamazoo Central a 15-10 advantage, but the lead wouldn’t last long as Love picked up a pair of kills and Devon Floor’s block cut the Giants’ advantage to 17-16.

Another Love kill tied the set at 17-17. It would be tied four more times, the last at 21-21.

Kills by Passion Johnson and Gabrielle Orbe made it 23-21 and then back-to-back service winners from Cutshaw gave the Giants the 25-21 victory.

The third set was close at the beginning and again at the end. In between, Kalamazoo Central owned a 15-8 advantage before Niles came roaring back.

The Vikings cut the lead to 23-19 on a kill by Love and when the Giants committed three consecutive hitting errors, the set was knotted at 23-23.

Niles was unable to maintain the momentum and dropped at 25-23 decision.

The fourth set was also nip and tuck.

Niles led 7-4 after an Amanda Baker kill, but Kalamazoo Central came back and tied the game at 11-11 and then went ahead 14-12. This time it was Niles’ turn to mount the comeback. The Vikings squared the fourth set at 14-14 and when Myers blocked another Kalamazoo Central spike attempt, Niles had a 16-14 advantage.

The Vikings made enough plays down the stretch to keep a point or two ahead of the Maroon Giants and eventually pulled out the 25-22 victory when Baker drove home another kill.

It was no contest in the fifth and deciding set.

After the two teams were tied at 3-3, Love’s kill gave Niles the lead for good. But it was her serving at the end of the set that was the difference.

Love served up eight points in a row, including an ace, to lift the Vikings to the victory. Lashonda Greene’s kill punctuated the come-from-behind victory.

Love finished the night with 23 kills and 16 digs. Baker added 12 kills and 18 digs, while Brea Haines also finished with 18 digs.

Cortney Shirrell contributed 10 digs and 42 assists. Floor led the team with three blocks.

Niles d. Kalamazoo Central 3-0

Viking statistics


Ashley Love 23

Miranda Baker 12

Lashonda Greene 4

Michelle Briand 3


Brea Haines 18

Miranda Baker 18

Ashley Love 16

Cortney Shirrell 10


Cortney Shirrell 42


Devon Floor 3

Cortney Shirrell 2

Ashley Love 1

Lashonda Greene 1

Kylee Myer 1